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Rebellion came out fighting but in the end it went down in flames

RTÉ’s Easter Rising drama didn’t quite live up to its early promise.

Image: RTÉ/Player

THE FINAL EPISODE of Rebellion featured a lesbian kiss, a cold-blooded assassination and James Connolly’s brutal execution, yet it still fell a little flat.

The five-part series kind of flagged over its latter half and it seemed to spend much of last night teeing up a potential follow-up series. Much to the displeasure, one would imagine, of those who spent countless Twitter characters laying into RTÉ’s €6 million drama.

But that’s what the series was, a drama.

Arguments over historical inaccuracies became a Sunday night ritual over the last five weeks but the programme was never supposed to be a bullet-by-bullet account of Easter Week.

So if you’re to critique the show on anything, at least judge primarily on how it resolved the various plots last night, or indeed how it didn’t.

Plots that were too plentiful, too peripheral and in the end too stodgy to really make us care.

Take May’s predicament as she carried the unborn child of her haughty boss while also facing arrest for treason. Given the choice of being saved from the law by giving him her baby or facing the consequences, we end up not really knowing what happens.

It seems like she goes along with his plan but Sarah Greene also gives us the sense that her character is only buying time. It was a major plot point that took away from the action itself, something that wouldn’t have been so bad if it was worth it. In the end, it wasn’t.

It actually didn’t even matter anyway because Frances takes it upon herself to help May by shooting dead the only Dublin detective who seems out to get her.

So after all that we’re left not really knowing if the problem is resolved. And if it is, who resolved it.


Speaking of Frances, she tells us that she’s now tasted freedom and can’t go back. Freedom which for her appears to be a taste for shooting men and kissing women. Not exactly the archetypal feminist stereotype but not far off.

Back inside the walls of Kilmainham, the late-breaking unnecessary plot features Michael Collins and Éamon De Valera.

Rebellion’s main hero Jimmy Mahon is shown getting the warmest of hugs from Collins while he and the Dev argue over the latter’s supposed cowardice during the Rising.

This is of course after the Dev character is shown throwing up in the prison yard prior to an execution that he never really faced. It wasn’t the worst piece of poetic licence Rebellion has taken but it was probably the most unnecessary.

Back to the melodrama… Jimmy and Lizzie’s tepid love affair also went to new heights of implausible after they spot each other boarding a prison ship to England.

Screaming ‘Up the worker’s Republic!’ while being held apart by the British soldiers was probably the most cringeworthy scene in a ropey end to the series.

Rebellion gambled on their brave decision to sideline the Rising’s leaders in favour of fictional characters. While this decision started off as an exciting choice and succeeded in getting people talking, it hinged on making the characters at least as interesting as the real events.

Something it never quite achieved, pity.

Read: Was Rebellion right to say Pádraig Pearse ‘signed the death warrants’ of 1916’s leaders? >

Read: The national anthem sung in English? Rebellion’s writers were absolutely right about that >

About the author:

Rónán Duffy

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